Stephen Usery interviews authors of mysteries, thrillers, and crime fiction.

Day Seven: I got a chance to interview Rita Mae Brown, one of the most popular mystery writers in American history. We talked about her then-recent Mrs. Murphy novel, Hiss of Death. And no, Sneakypie did not come with.

Direct download: DAY_7_-_RITA_MAE_BROWN.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

Day Six: Edgar-winner Tom Franklin is one of the most-respected writers of literary crime fiction in America. His third novel, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, was an Edgar finalist among many other honors. Race relations, friendships, and history converge into a story that will break your heart.

Direct download: DAY_6_-_TOM_FRANKLIN.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

Day Five: A full-length Tale of True Crime today! Hampton Sides is a native of Memphis and an award-winning writer of non-fiction. I interviewed him upon the release of Hellhound on His Trail, which chronicles the movements of James Earl Ray prior to his assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his flight from the country afterwards.

Direct download: DAY_5_-_HAMPTON_SIDES.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

Day Four: A couple of years ago, Tess Gerritsen stopped by the studio to talk about the eighth installment of her best-selling Rizzoli and Isles series, Ice Cold.

Direct download: DAY_4_-_TESS_GERRITSEN.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

Day Three: Earlier this year, I interviewed Daniel Friedman about his debut novel, Don't Ever Get Old. Baruch "Buck" Schatz in an eighty-seven year-old retired homicide cop who gets dragged into a chase for Nazi gold. Damn, this book is funny.

Direct download: DAY_3-_DANIEL_FRIEDMAN.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

The Second Crime of Christmas: I interviewed Heidi Julavits at the Arkansas Literary Festival in April earlier this year. She's the editor of The Believer, and her latest novel, The Vanishers, is guaranteed to screw with your head. It'll be out in paperback on January 8, 2013.

Direct download: DAY_2_-_HEIDI_JULAVITS.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

I'm taking a couple of weeks off from interviews, but Mysterypod listeners won't miss a thing. Over the course of the true Twelve Days of Christmas, I'll post an interview each day from my other show, Book Talk. For the first day, here's my interview from earlier this year with Patrick deWitt about his Gold Rush-era novel about a pair of hired killers known as The Sisters Brothers.

Direct download: DAY_1_-_PATRICK_DEWITT.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

The Big Interrogation: Rhys Bowen has enjoyed much success with her historical mysteries. Over the years, she's won a couple of Agatha and Macavity awards, among others, and has been nominated for everything else. Fans still miss her Constable Evans series, but have warmed to the Molly Murphy Series. However, we'll be starting the conversation off with the latest installment in The Royal Spyness series, starring Lady Georgiana Rannoch. The New York Times Best Seller, The Twelve Clues of Christmas finds Georgie heading to an estate in Devon for the Yuletide season and finding strange deaths aplenty.

The Bonus Interview is a chat with Santa Claus. No, not THE Kris Kringle, but the man known as the most-photographed Santa in America, Sal Lizard. Sal has been dressing up as the jolly elf for more than 20 years. We talk about his memoir Being Santa Claus: What I Learned about the True Meaning of Christmas, which is available from Gotham Books.

Direct download: Case024-RhysBowen.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 5:50am EDT

The Big Interrogation: Leena Lehtolainen is one of the biggest crime fiction writers in her native Finland. Her Maria Kallio books have been turned into a television show and translated all over Europe. Finally, her books are being translated into English. The first in the series, My First Murder, was originally published back in 1993, but is brand new in paperback and it's available from Amazon Crossing.

Tale of True Crime: Katy Munger is the author of Angel Among Us which is the fourth in the Dead Detective series, and it's available from Severn House.

Bonus Interview: Here's an interview I did with Adam Johnson earlier this year about The Orphan Master's Son his first novel in way too many years. It follows Pak Jun Do, a North Korean orphan whose rise through the ranks in North Korea's power structure is fraught with kidnappings, killings, and prison camps.

Direct download: CASE023-LeenaLehtolainen.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 10:09am EDT

The Big Interrogation: Molly Caldwell Crosby worked for National Geographic Magazine before scoring a critical and commercial hit with he first book, The American Plague about the scourge of yellow fever. Her next book was Asleep: The Forgotten Epidemic That Remains one of Medicine's Greatest Mysteries. I've only featured fiction in the Big Interrogation up until now, but Mysterypod listener Jared in Richmond, Virginia has told me how much he enjoys the Tales of True Crime segments, so here's a whole interrogation about a Tale of True Crime. Molly's newest book is The Great Pearl Heist: London's Greatest Thief and Scotland Yard's Hunt for the World's Most Valuable Necklace.    

Bonus Interview: I thought it would be nice to pair up Molly's interview with one I conducted with Jacqueline Winspear several years ago. Jacqueline's Maisie Dobbs series is set in England after the first World War, so it offers a nice follow up to the late Edwardian setting for The Great Pearl Heist. Jacqueline and I spoke about her fifth Maisie book, An Incomplete Revenge back in 2008. The ninth book in the series, An Elegy for Eddie, is new in paperback from Harper Perennial. 

Direct download: case022-MollyCaldwellCrosby.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 6:19pm EDT

THE BIG INTERROGATION: Katy Munger might be best known for her Casey Jones series, but she has a couple of other series, one starring Hubbert and Lil written under the name Gallagher Gray, and the other the Dead Detective series which she began under the name Chaz McGee. Severn House has just released the fourth installment of that series, entitled Angel Among Us, which was named one of Amazon's best suspense novels for November. Disembodied spirit and former incompetent, drunk cop Kevin Fahey tries to find a kidnapped woman before it's too late.

BONUS: I interviewed Jeff Crook this summer when his first Jackie Lyons novel, The Sleeping and the Dead, was released by Minotaur/St. Martin's. Not only does it have a supernatural setting, with the protagonist being a crime scene photographer who can see the dead, but it is set right around Thanksgiving, so I thought it be a great time to revisit it.

Direct download: Case021-KatyMunger.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 9:06am EDT

The Big Interrogration: Peggy Webb has enjoyed a prolific and respected career of writing fiction since 1985, with close to 70 novels being published. Her cozy Southern Cousins Mystery series cracks way more jokes than it bumps off characters in the Mooreville/Tupelo, Mississippi area. The narrators are beauty shop owner Callie Valentine and her basset hound Elvis, who believes himself to be the reincarnated King of Rock'n'Roll. In the new installment, Elvis and the Blue Christmas Corpse, will they be able to stop a Yuletide serial killer who is bumping off the residents of the local shopping mall's Santa's Village?

As a bonus for human Elvis fans, here's my 2010 interview George Klein about his book,  Elvis: My Best Man: Radio Days, Rock 'n' Roll Nights, and My Lifelong Friendship with Elvis Presley. GK, as he's known to friends and fans alike, is a broadcasting legend in Memphis and was a member of The King's famed Memphis Mafia.

Direct download: CASE020-PEGGY_WEBB.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:02am EDT

The Big Interrogation: Michael Kardos is the co-director on the creative writing program at Mississippi State University. His story collection One Last Good Time won the 2012 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters award for fiction. His debut novel is The Three-Day Affair, published by Otto Penzler's The Mysterious Press. It's the story of three college friends and a golf weekend reunion that goes horribly wrong.

Direct download: Case019-MichaelKardos.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 6:36pm EDT

Jamie Freveletti is a lawyer turned award-winning novelist. Back in September, her offering for the Robert Ludlum estate, The Janus Reprisal, was published. Harper has just released the fourth novel in her series featuring chemist and adventurer Emma Caldridge, Dead Asleep, which is available now in paperback. 

Also on this week's show is an older interview I conducted with Molly Caldwell Crosby back in 2010 about her book Asleep: The Forgotten Epidemic that Remains One of Medicine's Greatest Mysteries. It's about encephalitis lethargica, one of the possible causes of the sleeping sickness in Dead Asleep by Jamie Freveletti. Molly will be back on Mysterypod in a few weeks to talk about her brand new historical true crime story, The Great Pearl Heist: London's Greatest Thief and Scotland Yard's Hunt for the World's Most Valuable Necklace, which will be published on November 27 by Berkeley.

Direct download: CASE018-JAMIE_FREVELETTI.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 5:15pm EDT

The Big Interrogation: Mark Sullivan served in the Peace Corps, worked as a journalist, helped build roads in Montana, and is a thriller writer. His latest novel is Rogue; the first in a new series starring Robin Monarch. He's a thief turned CIA operative who starts to distrust his handler, which kicks off an international thrill ride.

Direct download: Case017-MarkSullivan.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 5:46pm EDT

The Big InterrogationJ. R. Moehringer is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author. His 2005 memoir, The Tender Bar was a best seller and was named a NY Times Notable Book; he co-wrote Andre Agassi's memoir, Open, which has been praised as one of the greatest sports memoirs of all time. Hyperion has recently released his first novel, Sutton, which is a fictionalized telling of the life of America's greatest bank robber, Willie "The Actor" Sutton.
Tale of True Crime: Novelist and poet Julianna Baggott tells how a moment of witnessed violence became a scene in her novel, Pure, which is now available in paperback from Grand Central. The second installment of her dystopian trilogy, Fuse, will be published in February 2013.

Direct download: CASE016-JR_MOEHRINGER.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 4:59pm EDT

I interviewed Wiley Cash earlier this year for his debut novel, A Land More Kind Than Home. He just won the Crime Writers Association's John Creasey New Blood Dagger. Congrats, Wiley! Enjoy the interview!

Direct download: WILEY_CASH_2012_WYPL_BOOK_TALK.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 6:52pm EDT

The Big Interrogation: Attica Locke. I was lucky enough to interview Attica back in 2009, when her first mystery, Black Water Rising, was released. It was nominated for many awards, the biggest being shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction, which is the highest profile award in the world focusing on women writing in English. (Barbara Kingsolver won that year, and Hillary Mantel was a fellow shortlistee, so very impressive company, indeed.) 

2012 brings us her second mystery, The Cutting Season. It is set on a museum plantation down in Louisiana, where class and race conflict are part of the permanent collection. You can also listen to our interview for her book, Black Water Rising, by clicking here.
Tale of True Crime: Julie Cantrell is the former editor of the Southern Literary Review and the author of the NY Times bestselling coming-of-age novel, Into the Free.

Direct download: CASE015-ATTICA_LOCKE.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 1:15pm EDT

The Big Interrogation: Michael Wiley just received a Shamus for best hardcover p.i. novel at last week's Bouchercon 2012 in Cleveland. I went to Bouchercon last year in St. Louis and interviewed Michael about his third Joe Kozmarski book, A Bad Night's Sleep, which just won the Shamus. During the interview, my microphone pre-amp started to die. About 15 minutes in, my channel starts to sound pretty rough, but Michael's sounds great all the way through. Because of the audio problems, I wasn't able to use the interview for Book Talk, but I thought it'd be a great time to resurrect it given his recent triumph. And here's my interview with him about his 2010 mystery, The Bad Kitty Lounge.

Tale of True Crime: Lawrence Norfolk is a journalist and award-winning novelist. His first novel in twelve years, John Saturnall's Feast, follows an orphan who becomes England's greatest chef during the period leading up to and including the English Civil War in the 17th century. You can hear my interview with him about John Saturnall's Feast on Book Talk.

Direct download: CASE014-MICHAEL_WILEY.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 10:44am EDT

Hank Phillippi Ryan is an investigative reporter for WHDH-TV in Boston. She's the author of the Charlie McNally series of novels which started in 2007, and they've been nominated for several awards. In 2009, she won Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards for her short story "On the House." 2012 brings us her new book, The Other Woman, starring reporter Jane Ryland.

Nancie Clare offers up Gypsies, gunfire, and repercussions in this week's tale of true crime. She and Rip Georges are teaming up to create the tablet magazine called Noir. Check out their fundraising campaign on campaign wraps up on October 5, 2012, so get after it.

Direct download: Case013-Hank_Phillipp__Ryan.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

For the big interrogation this week, we wade into the swamp that is southern gothic. Michael Morris's third novel, Man in the Blue Moon, offers up transgression, revenge, and a crooked preacher. Set in Florida's panhandle during the closing weeks of World War I, this is not the genteel south; this is a land full of drinkers, scheming bankers, and mysterious strangers.

Gregg Hurwitz gets a little too much local color at a Moscow bar in this week's tale of true crime. His latest novel is The Survivor, which is available from St. Martin's press.

And finally this week is a bit of my conversation with Tim Hallinan from our interview this past summer that didn't make it into the podcast. He recently published the e-book Making Story: Twenty-One Writers on How They Plot. It's available for Kindle from for 3.99, for free if you have an Amazon Prime account.

Direct download: case012-michael_morris.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 4:54pm EDT

Gregg Hurwitz is a man on fire. He just took over scripting the comic book series Batman:The Dark Knight. Shawn Ryan (The Shield, Lie to Me) and Gregg are teaming up to turn his U.S. Marshal Tim Rackley books into a series for TNT, and St. Martin's has just published his twelfth novel, The Survivor, about an Army vet who thinks he has nothing to lose when he gets caught in the middle of a bank robbery. 

Julia Keller offers up this week's Tale of True Crime. A Killing in the Hills, her first mystery starring West Virginia prosecutor Bell Elkins, is available from Minotaur.


 The team behind the late Los Angeles Times Magazine, Nancie Clare and Rip Georges, have decided to turn to a life of crime. Well, not quite, they're developing the first tablet magazine dedicated to thrillers, mysteries, and true crime, and it's called Noir. Currently in the process of raising funds, you can check out their Kickstarter page for more info on the project.

Direct download: Case011-Gregg_Hurwitz.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 6:05pm EDT

The Big Interrogation this week is with Blake Fontenay who was a newspaper reporter and columnist for more than 25 years, ten of them at The Commercial Appeal in Memphis. John F. Blair has just published his debut, The Politics of Barbeque, a comic crime novel full of corruption, greed and slow-cooked meat. With the book set in Memphis and up to its hocks in barbeque, I couldn’t resist doing the interview in one of Memphis’ best known joints, The Bar-B-Q Shop on Madison Avenue, home of the best pulled pork sandwich in the world. Many thanks to Eric Vernon for letting us conduct the interview there. Blake will also be signing his novel at The Booksellers at Laurelwood on Tuesday, September 18 at 6:00 p.m.
Sean Chercover offers up a tale of true crime. He got into the p.i. business to help him with his writing, and he found out quickly that stories in real-life can have a different type of ending. His latest novel is The Trinity Game, a religious thriller where the Catholic Church, the U.S. Government, and organized crime get very nervous when a TV  preacher's prophecies actually start coming to pass. You can listen to our full interview on Case 005.

And a special best-seller interview this week with Kevin Powers. He joined the U.S. Army at seventeen and was a machine gunner in Iraq in 2004 and 2005. His debut novel, The Yellow Birds, follows an Iraq war veteran coming home and dealing with PTSD and survivor's guilt and weaves that story together with the events leading up to a horrific incident that changed his life forever.

Direct download: case010-blake_fontenay.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 5:15pm EDT

This week's big interrogation is with Andrew Cotto about his second novel, Outerborough Blues: A Brooklyn Mystery. Caesar is a young man in a rough section of Brooklyn in the early 1990s. He's just trying to cook good food and fix up his house when a beautiful stranger walks into his boss's restaurant and changes the neighborhood forever.

Courtney Miller Santo looks back at her great-grandparents who had too much felonious fun in San Francisco back in the day. Courtney's novel, The Roots of the Olive Tree, is about five generations of women who are being studied for a possible genetic link for longevity, and secrets and crimes are unearthed along the way.

Direct download: case009-andrew_cotto.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 5:33pm EDT

Megan Abbott is this week's Big Interrogation. Her new novel Dare Me looks at the dangerous world of competitive cheerleading, and in this world, acrobatic stunts aren't the only things that go bad. I've interviewed Megan twice before. Go here for our chat about The End of Everything and here about Bury Me Deep.

And in place of the regular feature segments this week, here's a sneak peek of my interview with New York Times best seller Peter Heller about his literary post-apocalyptic thriller, The Dog Stars, where almost everything has gone bad after a super-flu has decimated the world's population. The interview was conducted for my radio show Book Talk, but I'll give the Mysterypod faithful first crack at it.

Direct download: case008-megan_abbott_and_peter_heller.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 8:30pm EDT

Pulitzer Prize winner Julia Keller is this week's Big Interrogation. A Killing in the Hills is the first thriller in her Bell Elkins series, which takes place in rural West Virginia, as the small town of Acker's Gap is going to hell in a handbasket due to the illegal prescription pain pill trade and it's attendant violence.

Steve Usery takes the BaD tour from ABQ Trolley Company in Albuquerque, which lets riders check out many of the locations from the hit TV show, Breaking Bad. For more of Steve's pictures from the tour click here.

Direct download: case007-julia_keller-a_killing_in_the_hills.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 8:47pm EDT

This week's Big Interrogation is with award-winning playwright and novelist Jesse Kellerman about his new thriller Potboiler. We even talk a bit about guitars and bluegrass.

This week's Tale of True Crime comes from novelist Zoe Ferraris. You can hear our conversation about her novel Kingdom of Strangers on mysterpod case 002.
Film scholar and novelist Jake Hinkson reflects on the noir heart of Christopher Nolan's Batman movies. You can read more of Jake's writing at

Direct download: case006-jesse_kellerman-potboiler.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 3:32pm EDT

The Big Interrogation this week is with multi-award-winner Sean Chercover author of the The Trinity Game. Daniel Byrne, a priest/investigator for the Vatican's Devil's Advocate Office is sent to debunk the miraculous claims about an American televangelist, Tim Trinity, who happens to be Byrne's uncle.

Domingo Samudio, better known as Sam from Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs, shares stories of growing up rough in Texas and hard livin' women and a couple of poems seeking redemption.

Direct download: case005-sean_chercover-the_trinity_game.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

The Big Interrogation this week is with Lou Berney. His bio says that he is a accomplished liar, so who knows where this conversation falls off the truth train. He's written two comic crime novels starring too-nice-for-his-own-good wheelman Shake Bouchon, Gutshot Straight and Whiplash River.

Founder Clay Stafford will preview the upcoming Killer Nashville Conference, which takes place August 23-26, 2012 at the Hutton Hotel in Music City, U.S.A. Honored guests this year are C.J. Box, Heywood Gould, and Peter Straub.

And Steve talks with Richard Katz of Mystery One Bookstore in Milwaukee, Wisconsin about what he's been reading and what new releases we can look forward to this August.

Direct download: mysterypod-case004-lou-berney.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 1:00am EDT

The Big Interrogation this week is with Timothy Hallinan. Tim's previous installment in his Poke Rafferty books, The Queen of Patpong, was a finalist for Edgar and Macavity awards. SoHo Crime has just published the newest of this Bangkok-set series, The Fear Artist.

This week's Tale of True Crime comes from thriller novelist Mark Greaney. Mark is the author of The Gray Man Series, and co-authored Locked On with Tom Clancy.

Poet Bill Lavender recently published his memoir Memory Wing. It's an ambitious work, a book-length poem arranged in quatrains. Here, for mysterypod, he reads an excerpt recounting his early college years replete with drugs, theft, and books. Music is by Tom B. Alien.

Direct download: mysterypod-case003-tim_hallinan.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:16pm EDT

The big interrogation this week is with Zoe Ferraris who has written a trio of tremendous procedurals set in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The newest of which is Kingdom of Strangers, published by Little, Brown.

Jeff Crook provides our Tale of True Crime this week. His mystery novel debut is The Sleeping and the Dead and is available from Minotaur/St. Martin's. Check back in a couple of weeks for our interview on my other show Book Talk.

Preston Lauterbauch looks at the mysterious death of R&B pioneer Johnny Ace. Check out his fabulous book, The Chitlin' Circuit and the Road to Rock'n'Roll, new in paperback from W.W. Norton. Lots of good rockin' tonight and true crime are guaranteed.
If you want more, listen to our interview from last year for Book Talk.

Direct download: mysterypod-case002-zoe_ferraris.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 5:36am EDT

The big interrogation this week is with Joseph Kanon (Los Alamos, The Good German) about his latest Cold War thriller, Istanbul Passage.

Natalie Bakopolous kicks off the "Tales of True Crime" segment with a story of her first paycheck gone wrong. Her novel The Green Shore is available from Simon and Schuster. She'll also be a guest on my other show Book Talk in a couple of weeks.

Jake Hinkson talks about the noir underpinnings of Breaking Bad and Mad Men. He novel Hell On Church Street was published by New Pulp Press.<

Direct download: mysterypod-case001-joseph_kanon.mp3
Category:Arts - Literature -- posted at: 1:39pm EDT